Terry-as-a-DINO

“There has always been a question about whether Terry McAuliffe would really stand behind President Barack Obama if he were elected governor of Virginia. It’s one thing to say you will, but by having a fundraiser with Ed Rogers he’s proven that he won’t,” former Virginia Beach City Councilwoman Louisa Strayhorn said in a statement released by the Brian Moran campaign Tuesday raising issue again with last week’s McAuliffe campaign fundraiser in Washington with BGR Group, a bipartisan lobbying firm with which the controversial Rogers is a principal.

The statement itself could use some parsing, incidentally. There has “always been a question” about whether McAuliffe would stand behind President Obama if he were to be elected governor? Really? Call me Rip Van Winkle, because I must have slept through that one.

“It is incredibly disappointing that Terry McAuliffe would raise money from people who led incredibly divisive attacks against President Obama during last year’s election,” Chesapeake City Councilman Bryan Collins said in a statement in the same Moran campaign press release. “I know this will cause a great deal of skepticism about McAuliffe’s candidacy among the activists who worked so hard to elect the president.”

My BS detector is now on alert.

“Terry McAuliffe has been telling Virginia Democrats how much success he will bring with his fundraising prowess,” Norfolk Commissioner of Revenue Sharon McDonald said in a third statement included in the Moran presser. “The Washington Post’s coverage of his fundraiser at the firm founded by Haley Barbour certainly begs the question: Why does he need to raise money from Ed Rogers, a Republican operative and Lee Atwater protégé, in the first place? Virginia Democrats find this offensive, and not the kind leadership we want in our next governor.”

Interesting strategy from the Moran organization – which must not be reading from the same campaign numbers that we reported yesterday that have Moran slightly ahead of McAuliffe in the race for the Democratic Party gubernatorial nomination. This is desperation-mode type campaigning from the Moran people that treats McAuliffe as the media has been treating the former Democratic National Committee chairman since the first rumblings that he was considering a run at the governorship last summer – as the presumptive frontrunner.

I get the political wisdom behind this paint-Terry-as-a-DINO scheme. The activists (read: “the liberals”) will make up a larger portion of the electorate in the June primary than they will in November, and raising issue with McAuliffe’s Democratic credentials should push their buttons. But keep in mind that Virginia is an open-primary state, one, and two that the Republicans aren’t doing a primary alongside ours on the Democratic side, meaning it’s just as likely that we could see a higher turnout from independents and moderate Republicans as we see a higher turnout from the liberal activists.

Terry-as-a-DINO, then, could in the end buttress the case to that wider spectrum of primary voters that McAuliffe supporters have been pushing as the sell on his political stock – that Terry McAuliffe, like Mark Warner, is a Democrat who can reach out across the aisle to work with Republicans to get things done.

Now, Ed Rogers is a reprehensible sort, no question about it. Anybody who made it their reason to get out of bed in the morning to take every opportunity to go Hussein on Barack Obama isn’t worth his carbon footprint. But the Moran folks are making an awful lot out of his presence at the BGR Group fundraiser when it was another BGR Group principal, Jonathan Mantz, the former national finance director for Hillary Clinton, who was the principal host from BGR.

That the Moran team is trying to create a monster is never more evident than when you talk to the man behind the mask. McAuliffe isn’t fighting back, preferring to talk up his ideas to business-plan Virginia’s future and saving his venom for the presumptive GOP nominee, former attorney general Bob McDonnell.

My advice to the Moran campaign would be to remember the saw about being careful what you wish for.

 

– Column by Chris Graham


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